Nokia - ForTheLoveOfGaming.com
I still admit I have no idea what exactly happened when I got tossed into a little white room with Nokia Senior Producer Scott Foe. They sat me down, had me play a web-based trivia game (which you can try yourself at www.fortheloveofgaming.com) and then kicked me out with a flash drive to show for it and a firm promise not to lose it.
What was the appointment all about? Here's what I figured out: Clearly, Foe - who previously did Pocket Kingdom, one of the first mobile MMOs - is at work on something new and one would assume it's called Project White Rock.
The flash drive is white and it comes with 25 MP3s by the nerd-band "8 Bit Weapon" who do spoof music in the style of old-school video games. Each one is labelled as part of the "Project White Rock Soundtrack" and include such classic hits as "2D Died", a lament of the day 2D gaming died set to the tune of "American Pie", except with old fashioned, Atari-style computerized music. The band's website includes a list of three unannounced 2008 Nokia projects.
The flash drive also includes a folder called "Keychain" with some unreadable data files and a warning to keep them safe.
So what is Project White Rock? Well, a quick look at coverage tells me that no one quite figured it out and I can only assume that was the whole point. Others seem to have hints that this is some kind of cross-platform (PC and Nokia hardware) project, but beyond that, who knows.
They get points for originality and the fact this may be one of those industry secrets that actually is a secret. So, in the meantime, enjoy the trivia.
With Lunia, an MMO import, CDC Games kicks off their new North American web portal 12FootTall.com. This is a single sign-on, single currency, multi-game platform. All of their titles are intended to be free-to-play, supported by micro transaction or purely free web-based mini-games.
The website itself is completely unlike the normal portal, it draws from a Manga style and scrolls right to left. At first, this can be disorienting, but according to CDC (and a poll they showed us) they have had a strong positive response. As their games are generally Asian localizations, the theme fits. They also intend to support it with upcoming Manga strips produced specifically for their website.
Aside from Lunia, the company kicked off their website with four completely free flash games and will soon bring in 16 Pounds, an MMO bowling game built in South Korea but, the company says, with North America in mind.
Like many localization dependent companies, CDC was quick to highlight their commitment to good translation and localization. In their case, they employ native Koreans living in North America to do the first pass, then run the results through actual gamers for clarity.
Lunia is an arcade oriented MMO, with a distinctly Asian art style. It was a big success overseas and CDC boasted it can even be enjoyed with a gamepad. They hope to bring it out of Beta into full release early this year.
Until Next Time...
There were a lot of smaller companies at the show this year and we will continue the round-up in the coming days with a look at Simutronics' HeroEngine, GameRail and some other tidbits unearthed from GDC. Check back tomorrow as we dive back into the MMOs with a look at what Nexon - the developer behind MapleStory - is up to next.
Full Disclosure: Nokia is represented by TAP Interactive on Project White Rock. TAP is owned by Themis Group, the same parent company as WarCry.